Starting the general sessions on Thursday, Claus Bolza-Schünemann, President and CEO of KBA, explained how KBA has succeeded in growing within today's difficult economic, globalized environment. He also stressed the importance of hiring a competent workforce, advising attendees to, "hire the best people and listen to them."
Donna Harman, President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association, next described the progress of the Paper Check-Off Program, and how she believes that it will help grow our already vibrant industry. She also encouraged industry leaders to advocate in their local areas against Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
After lunch, Tim Bohrer, owner of PacAdvantage Consulting, spoke about a recently concluded groundbreaking comparison study between flexible packaging and paperboard primary packaging units. Bohrer briefly reviewed the study's methodology before introducing the results: that lower-weight, plastic-based primary packaging does not necessarily lead to lower non-renewable energy usage or lower greenhouse gas emissions when compared to paperboard. As he told the audience, "Primary package weight does not solely determine whether one package system has a better sustainability profile compared to another."
Dr. Jeffrey Rosensweig, Director of the Global Perspectives Program at Emory University and Dr. Marc De Vos, Director of the Itinera Institute next spoke about the economic crisis facing both Europe and the U.S. According to Dr. Rosensweig, the U.S. economy is recovering but due to the ongoing indecision in Washington, DC, the recovery will continue to be a slow one. He also suggested that attendees form detailed contingency plans in preparation for either a recession or a rise in interest rates.
Keynoting Friday morning's general session was Mary Cooper, Vice President of Account Management at Perception Research Services, who discussed how advancements in technology and changes in shopping habits affects the packaging industry. Mary advised becoming as trend-savvy as possible, noting, "As your company evolves, keep in mind the changing relationships between retailers and manufacturers as well as the current changes in globalization, public health, sustainability, and digital printing."
Dr. Diana Twede, Professor at Michigan State University, then took the podium to explain how the curriculum of their prestigious packaging school relates to the industry. Dr. Twede also emphasized the need for attendees to support and encourage package design talent with internships as these talented students transition into their professional careers.
Closing out the session was Kelly Jewell, Project Manager at The Forest Trust (TFT), who described how to achieve supply chain transparency through responsible sourcing and product traceability. Kelly pointed out that the most important aspects are knowing where the raw materials for your product come from and then communicating this to your clients and consumers.
The three-day conference concluded with sold-out plant tours of Southern Champion Tray and American Carton Co., in Mansfield, TX.
"We're very pleased with the impressive turnout and the level of expertise offered by our speakers," noted PPC Chairman Stephen Scherger. "It's evident that PPC provides valuable insights into the state of the industry for an active, dedicated community of business leaders."